Aber Uni study: Young people 'unsure' on Brexit effect

A high school classroom Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Young people under the voting age expressed frustration to the Aberystwyth researchers

Young people in Wales remain unsure about how Brexit will affect their lives, according to a new study.

The research was carried out by the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (Wiserd) and Aberystwyth University.

Researchers visited schools across Wales and interviewed young people at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Pencoed.

They found many young people under voting age also felt frustrated they had not had a voice in the referendum.

The results of the study will be presented in a paper at a conference in London on Thursday.

Dyfan Powel, of Wiserd, and Dr Elin Royles, from the Centre for Welsh Politics and Society at Aberystwyth University, who carried out the research, spoke to 40 school children and conducted further interviews at the Urdd Eisteddfod.


They found young people broadly accepted the result of the referendum.

However, they remained unsure about its potential impact and were worried that, as the referendum was decided by older voters, it may have damaging consequences to their education and career prospects.

This has led to more political engagement of young people, the study suggested.

"We don't want to overplay it but there's a clear sense from young people of frustration amongst those under 18 that did not have a chance to vote and the sense that, had they voted, the result would have been different," Dr Royles said.

But other young people questioned were far more positive about the future, seeing Brexit as an opportunity to expand Britain's links with other parts of the world, with the nation strong enough to stand alone outside the EU.

"There seems to be a unified pragmatism in how to move forward," said Dr Royles.

"And a sense that, whatever the result was, let's make the most of what is to ensue and let's try and maximise the opportunities for young people from what the post-Brexit arrangements will be."

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Image caption Dyfan Powel said "identity" was central part of the study

Almost a year since the vote, some young people also said they feel the result has raised questions about identity and Welsh society, with the referendum interpreted as a vote against immigrants.

Mr Powel said: "There was a perception that this was...a vote by older people, really, against immigration and not anything else about the European Union. That was something young people could not indentify with."

The role of the youth vote in the UK has been widely debated since the general election.

After the initial claims more than 70% of 18 to 12-year-olds voted across the UK, a YouGov poll has since suggested it was closer to about 60%.

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